How will a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner discover precisely what is wrong with your health and how to heal it? They use a special brand of diagnosis. In part three of this series, we look at touch and, in particular, what your pulse reveals.
The practitioner will feel and tap certain areas of the body, on the arms, legs, shoulders, and midsection, to figure out what’s happening in a few specific areas:
–. Pain and tenderness anywhere on the body
— How moist (or dry) the skin is and where perspiration accumulates
— The temperature of your skin, as cold and heat are focal points in Chinese medicine
But, nothing is as important as pulse. A TCM practitioner “listens” to the beat of your blood, for about 30 different pulse qualities that they will feel for in three different spots, and three different depths on your hands. Every nuance, every subtleness of a pulse, means something.
Feeling the pulse palpitation is a serious skill for a TCM practitioner, an art, really, which takes training and experience to master. The three spots on each wrist all run along the radial artery. On each spot, the practitioner uses fingers to apply light pressure, then medium, then heavy. They test for how strong the pulse is, the rate, the width, the feel of it, and how consistent the rhythm is.
Here are some examples of the characteristics TCM practitioners feel for when taking your pulse:
— Deep: Found only at the deep level and not at light or medium levels—something is in disharmony internally.
— Slippery: Very fluid, the pulse kind of slips along beneath the fingers—linked to dampness and your spleen.
— Wiry: Like a musical string, the pulse is taut and distinct—linked to liver.
— Choppy: Uneven waves in pulse, like the ocean—deficiency of blood.
— Empty: Feels broad, and hard to detect, felt only at the superficial level—deficiency of blood, or the life force Qi.
— Slow: The rate is significantly below normal—a coldness internally.
— Knotted: Not only slow, but skipping every so often—there is disharmony in the blood and/or heart.
Stay tuned for part four of this series.